Jim Farley showed his break-the-rules approach to cars 30 years ago, when he was 15. He drove a 1966 Ford Mustang he had restored from Los Angeles to Michigan — in two days, without telling his parents and without a license.
Last week, Farley said he is "excited to make that trip once again."
Farley, 45, is leaving his job as general manager of Lexus Division — a post that reflected his considerable marketing talents — to become the new chief global marketer at Ford Motor Co. Farley is Ford CEO Alan Mulally's first major outside hire.
As group vice president of marketing and communications, Farley will report directly to Mulally. His charge: Revitalize a marketing culture that has grown stale, and link it to Ford's product development and business units worldwide.
"We never really had a senior marketing leader inside Ford," Mulally told Automotive News last week."It is a real statement about the importance of marketing in business and at Ford."
Farley's 17 years at Toyota include a number of marketing innovations. After starting as a product planner for Lexus, he worked as a zone manager in Cincinnati and did a stint with Toyota Europe. At Toyota Division, he oversaw the 2002 launch of Scion.
He didn't advertise the youth-oriented brand on network TV. Instead, Farley displayed Scion's cars on the Internet and at clubs, art galleries and other venues where young people gathered.
Farley took a similarly iconoclastic view of Scion design. In an interview this year, he recalled: "When we redesigned the tC, I brought a little paper template of my bike to Japan. I unfolded it to make sure my bike fit in the back of the tC, because I knew that was going to be my lease car. The chief engineer thought I was crazy."
As Toyota Division's marketing vice president, Farley was the architect of this year's launch of the redesigned Tundra pickup. He again emphasized online and grass-roots marketing, taking the truck to NASCAR races, hunting and fishing shows and country music concerts.